Dennis Rodman: North Korea Trip to Finalize NBA Exhibition Game

Image: Dennis Rodman: North Korea Trip to Finalize NBA Exhibition Game

Thursday, 19 Dec 2013 12:58 PM

By Clyde Hughes

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America's unlikeliest ambassador to North Korea, Dennis Rodman, has made another trip to the secretive country to finalize plans for a Jan. 8 exhibition game with former NBA players.

The Associated Press reported that the basketball Hall of Famer's latest trip comes less than a week after North Korea announced that Jang Song Thaek, the uncle of the country's leader Kim Jong Il, was executed.

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In an interview at his hotel in Pyongyang, Rodman told the Associated Press he was not concerned about the execution report or about the country's stability.

"I can't control what they do with their government, I can't control what they say or how they do things here," Rodman said. "I'm just trying to come here as a sports figure and try to hope I can open the door for a lot of people in the country."

Rodman said that he will help train the North Korean national team and then pull together his team of ex-NBA players who will travel to North Korea to play in an exhibition. Rodman is the most notable American to come face-to-face with Jong Il since he took North Korea's throne in 2011.

"I've come over to see my friend, and people always give me a little hard time about me saying that," Rodman told the Associated Press. "North Korea has given me the opportunity to bring these players and their families over here, so people can actually see, so these players can actually see, that this country is actually not as bad as people project it to be in the media."

Forbes columnist Gordon Chang told CNN that Rodman gives Jong Il and North Korea the ability to operate a one-man public relations campaign that ignores the country's political struggles and human rights issues against its own people.

"Got to remember that Kim Jong Un needs to show that his regime, his government, is united, which it isn't," Chang, author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World," said. "With Dennis Rodman, we're going to see a lot of made-for-television events. Everybody's going to be smiling, everything will appear normal, and this will bolster the regime."

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